ESC Update: St. Louis Hosts General Minister for Lecture on Pope, St. Francis

Maria Hayes Franciscan World

The following updates summarize news from the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor, comprised of provinces and custodies from Canada, England, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, and the United States. Follow the ESC on Facebook and Twitter  for up-to-date information throughout the month.

► General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, presented a lecture on Jan. 30 at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. After being introduced by former senator John Danforth, Fr. Michael spoke on the topic, “What do Francis of Assisi and Francis of Buenos Aires Have in Common? A Franciscan Perspective on the Common Good.” His talk touched on his recent visit to the Franciscan friars ministering in Syria, how St. Francis and Pope Francis have both experienced difficult times of war, persecution, and fear of others, and how both want to promote a common vision of peace that includes crossing boundaries of nations and ideologies to promote understanding of others. An in-depth summary of the lecture is available in Sacred Heart Province’s newsletter.

► Fr. John Parisio, OFM, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, who is teaching English at Thu Duc Seminary in Ho Chi Minh City, writes that many things about Vietnam strike him as “big” – including the seminary, which houses approximately 200 people. Fr. John teaches a group of 57 men, most of whom are in their early 20s. “In a word, Vietnam has been absolutely remarkable,” he said. “I have been welcomed with warmth and open arms. Even those outside the confines of the seminary have made me feel very much at home. The people of Vietnam are definitely its greatest asset!”

► From October to May, on the third Saturday of each month, Br. Joachim Yoon, OFM, of the Canadian Franciscans, and Sr. Marianna Jung, FMM, gather in downtown Montreal with youth from St. Francis Parish. After preparing 50 lunch bags, the group hits the streets and reaches out to people in need wherever they are – whether they’re on the sidewalk or on the steps of a Metro station. “In order to live deeply Franciscan spirituality in daily life, we decided to hand out sandwiches to the homeless,” said Br. Joachim. “The youth of St. Francis Parish have made this a monthly activity. They change when they connect with the homeless.” An article featuring this ministry was recently posted on

► An estimated 20,000 people visited St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Chicago, known to locals as “St. Peter’s in the Loop” on Ash Wednesday. The “chaos” of Ash Wednesday at the service church, which is staffed by 17 friars of Sacred Heart Province, was recently featured in St. Anthony Messenger.  “On Ash Wednesday, the lobby is absolutely chaotic,” said pastor Fr. Kurt Hartrich, OFM. Approximately four to six friars distribute ashes, while 12 Masses are celebrated and confessions are heard throughout the day.

► Several pieces of artwork created by or depicting Franciscan friars who ministered in Mexico from 1718 to 1821 are on display as part of a new exhibition, “San Antonio 1718,” at the San Antonio, Texas, Museum of Art. The collection “charts the city’s people, places, and cultures from the year of its founding as an outpost of New Spain to the Mexican War of Independence that culminated in 1821,” according to Rivard Report. “San Antonio 1718’ features several significant family trees, of the early Franciscan Order, of the aristocracy of New Spain and early revolutionary Mexico, and of the everyday social order, but also features themes that resonate with current events.”

► Our Lady of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, staffed by the Franciscan friars in Silema, Malta, began its 100th-anniversary celebrations on Feb. 18. Many friars, sisters, Secular Franciscans, and laypeople joined in the festivities.

► Nestled in the Malibu hills along California State Route One, the Serra Retreat center remains “one of the best-kept secrets in the city,” according to Malibu Magazine, which recently highlighted the center. “The location is rich in history and stunning views, making it truly unique among its surrounding community. Serra encourages people from all faiths and walks of life to find tranquility among its hills.”

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.

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